Top Chef DC: Bios Beyond What Bravo Tells You

We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Tracey Bloom

Age: 33

Lives in: Atlanta, but rocks an upstate-New York accent (she grew up in Shortsville, New York).

Job: Executive chef at Table 1280 at the Woodruff Arts Center. Simple dishes with just the slightest southern twang.

How she plans her menu: “Whatever I like to eat, my customers will eat,” she says in a video on Bravo. There are two options for dinner: take it or leave it.

She bats:
Righty and lefty. As in, she can cook both sweet and savory. Her first post-culinary-school job was as a pastry chef. In Top Chef world, pastry skills are like having a superhero power.

Known for: “Edgy desserts,” as Atlanta Magazine describes them. Case in point: walnut spice cake with bay-leaf ice cream.

Report card: “ . . . her cooking is as solid as cooking gets. In a city that boasts very few female culinary stars, that’s actually saying something. Her training shows in every pristine bite; I just wish she’d let her hair down a little . . . ”—Meredith Ford Goldman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Table 1280 after Bloom took over.

Reminds us of: Jesse Sandlin from season six.

Scorecard: 2 points for versatility, 2 points for critical praise. Total: 4 points.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Jacqueline Lombard

Age: 33

Lives in: Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Education: Vassar, French Culinary Insititute, Sommelier Society of America.

Job: Owns the four-year-old Jacqueline Lombard Events, turning out all-organic fare for the fashion crowd (clients include Balenciaga and Jil Sander). Or, as she put it in Paper, “I get the beautiful people drunk.”

And yet: Tells New York magazine that her favorite ingredients are “the three B’s: butter, bacon, and beef.”

Counters all that butter with: Pilates.

Big break: When Mario Batali, Lombard’s then-boss at Otto (she worked in pastry) introduced her to Stella McCartney, she got a gig catering Fashion Week.

Reminds us of: A zanier Gwyneth Paltrow.

You may have seen her in: The dining section of the New York Times or Glamour, which put the press-savvy chef on its list of 70 Eco Heroes (She recycles! And composts!). She’s also the dining editor of the New York Herald, where she last wrote a missive defending “pink” wine.

On the bright side: When making a grassfed rack of lamb for a YouTube video, she noted: “The lambs lived very happy lives. As I like to say, 'They only had one bad day.' ”

Scorecard: 3 points for likeability, 2 points for camera-readiness, 2 points for wine knowledge, minus 2 points for time away from restaurant kitchens. Total: 5 points.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Timothy Dean


Lives in:
Baltimore, but grew up in DC and went to Howard University.

Job: Somehow associated with the new Prime Steakhouse in Baltimore, where the motto is, um, “Do You Know Who’s Handling Your Beef?”

Eerily channels former boss Roberto Donna because:
The Bravo bio says he’s chef/owner of Prime, but the Baltimore Sun has chronicled a weird string of events that possibly tie ownership to his college-aged daughter and point to him as an out-of-the-kitchen consultant. At one point, he said the owners were a “group of investors who don’t want to be disclosed.” He’s supposed to open a restaurant in National Harbor, but plans are on permanent hold, thanks to a $17 million lawsuit.

In addition to financial issues, he’s had to deal with:
The loss of his wife to breast cancer three years ago.

Culinary climber:
First kitchen job was as a dishwasher, and in an interview with the Sun’s Elizabeth Large, he says his goals are on par with the accomplishments of Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller, and Wolfgang Puck.

Critics talk about: “ . . . his considerable, occasionally thrill-inducing, skills and talent . . . ”—Richard Gorelick in a Sun review of Prime in early April.

One reason for joining the show: “Padma is extremely, extremely sexy, and I wanted to see her in person.”

His TV is tuned to: The Cosby Show and the Marc Clarke Show.

Reminds us of: Theo from the Cosby Show.

Scorecard: 1 point for being a local guy, 2 points for working with Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate, 1 point for ambition, 1 point for liking Bill Cosby. Total: 5 points.

>>For more Top Chef DC coverage, click here.

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